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Impact of the quality of climate models for modelling species occurrences in countries with poor climatic documentation: a case study from Bolivia


Soria-Auza, R W; Kessler, M; Bach, K; Barajas-Barbosa, P M; Lehnert, M; Herzog, S K; Böhner, J (2010). Impact of the quality of climate models for modelling species occurrences in countries with poor climatic documentation: a case study from Bolivia. Ecological Modelling, 221(8):1221-1229.

Abstract

The quality of climate models has largely been overlooked as a possible source of uncertainty that may affect the outcomes of species distribution models, especially in the tropics, where comparatively few climatic stations are available. We compared the geographical discrepancies and potential conservation implications of using two different climate models (Saga and Worldclim) in combination with the species modelling approach Maxent in Bolivia. We estimated ranges of selected bird and fern species biogeographically restricted to either humid montane forest of the northern Bolivian Andes or seasonal dry tropical forests (in the Andes and southern lowlands). Saga and Worldclim predicted roughly similar climate patterns of temperature that were significantly correlated. Precipitation layers of both climate models were also roughly similar, but showed important differences. Species ranges estimated with Worldclim and Saga likewise produced different results. Ranges of species endemic to humid montane forests estimated with Saga had higher AUC (Area under the curve) values than those estimated with Worldclim, which for example predicted the occurrence of humid montane forest bird species near Lake Titicaca, an area that is clearly unsuitable for these species. Likewise, Worldclim overpredicted the occurrence of fern and bird species in the lowlands of the Chapare region and well south of the Andean Elbow, where more seasonal biomes occur. By contrast, Saga predictions were coherent with the known distribution of humid montane forests in the northern Bolivian Andes. Estimated ranges of species endemic to seasonal dry tropical forests predicted with Saga and Worldclim were not statistically different in most cases. However, detailed comparisons revealed that Saga was able to distinguish fragments of seasonal dry tropical forests in rain-shadow valleys of the northern Bolivian Andes, whereas Worldclim was not. These differences highlight the neglected influence of climate layers on modelling results and the importance of using the most accurate climate data available when modelling species distributions.

The quality of climate models has largely been overlooked as a possible source of uncertainty that may affect the outcomes of species distribution models, especially in the tropics, where comparatively few climatic stations are available. We compared the geographical discrepancies and potential conservation implications of using two different climate models (Saga and Worldclim) in combination with the species modelling approach Maxent in Bolivia. We estimated ranges of selected bird and fern species biogeographically restricted to either humid montane forest of the northern Bolivian Andes or seasonal dry tropical forests (in the Andes and southern lowlands). Saga and Worldclim predicted roughly similar climate patterns of temperature that were significantly correlated. Precipitation layers of both climate models were also roughly similar, but showed important differences. Species ranges estimated with Worldclim and Saga likewise produced different results. Ranges of species endemic to humid montane forests estimated with Saga had higher AUC (Area under the curve) values than those estimated with Worldclim, which for example predicted the occurrence of humid montane forest bird species near Lake Titicaca, an area that is clearly unsuitable for these species. Likewise, Worldclim overpredicted the occurrence of fern and bird species in the lowlands of the Chapare region and well south of the Andean Elbow, where more seasonal biomes occur. By contrast, Saga predictions were coherent with the known distribution of humid montane forests in the northern Bolivian Andes. Estimated ranges of species endemic to seasonal dry tropical forests predicted with Saga and Worldclim were not statistically different in most cases. However, detailed comparisons revealed that Saga was able to distinguish fragments of seasonal dry tropical forests in rain-shadow valleys of the northern Bolivian Andes, whereas Worldclim was not. These differences highlight the neglected influence of climate layers on modelling results and the importance of using the most accurate climate data available when modelling species distributions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Systematic Botany and Botanical Gardens
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:22 Mar 2010 14:36
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:03
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0304-3800
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2010.01.004
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-32845

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